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An edict of toleration is a declaration made by a government or ruler and states that members of a given religion will not be persecuted for engaging in their religious practices and traditions. The edict implies tacit acceptance of the religion rather than its endorsement by the ruling power.

Edicts of toleration in history

  • 1568 - The Edict of Torda (or Turda), also known as the Patent of Toleration (Act of Religious Tolerance and Freedom of Conscience), was an attempt by King John II Sigismund of Hungarymarker to guarantee religious freedom in his realm. Specifically, it broadened previous grants (to Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists) to include the Unitarian Church, and allowed toleration (not legal guarantees) for other faiths.

  • 1598 - The Edict of Nantes, issued by the King of France, Henry IV, was the formal religious settlement which ended the first era of the French wars of religion. The Edict of Nantes granted to French Huguenots legal recognition as well as limited religious freedoms, including: freedom of public worship, the right of assembly, rights of admission to public offices and universities, and permission to maintain fortified towns. The Edict of Nantes, however, would be revoked in 1685 by Henry IV's grandson, Louis XIV, who once again proclaimed Protestantism to be illegal in France through the Edict of Fontainebleau.

  • 1781 - Bohemia

  • 1782 - An Edict of Toleration - also known as the Patent of Toleration - issued by the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II, extended religious freedom to non-Catholic Christians living in Habsburg lands, including: Lutherans, Calvinists, and the Greek Orthodox. However, in the end, Joseph's Catholic conscience got the best of him, as he rescinded his own toleration patent while on his deathbed.

  • 1787 - An Edict of Toleration, issued by King Louis XVI of France, ended persecutions of non-Catholics - including Huguenots.

See also


  1. S. Neill, A History of Christian Missions (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books,964), pp. 189­l90.

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